Mediterranean Spring Rolls and Airport Layovers

by Sarah on March 17, 2010

spring roll

At Miami International Airport I picked up a copy of Fine Cooking magazine to pass the hours before my flight, oblivious to time until I was shocked into reaction mode upon hearing “Last Call for New York City, JFK, gate 50” except I was at gate 24 waiting patiently for a flight to the… Cayman Islands? Of course if I bothered to look around I would have realized I was in the wrong place, surrounded by a disproportionate number of beautiful couples all dressed in vacation chic. So off I dashed, looking like an accident until I reached an attendant who asked serenely “Gate 50?”

“What does it #%$##$%^$# look like? I am running around the airport for FUN?” Actually, I just nodded but sometimes I think the attendants like giving last minute calls just for the amusement of watching flailing travelers run up and down the airport.

So after travelling for 24 hours I arrived home and that is the best feeling in the world.

Spring roll

Spiced Lemon Chicken Spring Roll

This recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking  magazine’s recipe for Thai spring rolls but because I did not have many of the ingredients including shrimp*, nam pla fish sauce and vermicelli, I needed a few substitutions and a bit of inspiration. In fact one of the only items I did have was coriander, a popular herb in Asia as well as in North Africa, giving me the idea of doing a Mediterranean version of the roll.

This recipe is gluten free and also perfect during the week of Passover when leavened foods, such as bread, pasta and flour are not eaten by observant Jews.

Spiced lemon Chicken

400 grams boneless chicken, preferably thighs cut into thin strips

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon hot Moroccan paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon coriander

Juice from ½ lemon

20 rice paper rounds (22cm)

2 carrots, finely grated

1 bunch coriander chopped

2 scallions, roughly chopped

3-4 leaves romaine or other lettuce, roughly chopped

½ cup toasted almond slivers

Combine all the ingredients for the spiced chicken and let marinate for 1 hour. Drain, pat dry and  fry until golden, preferably in a cast iron skillet. A few tablespoons of vegetable oil can be added so the meat doesn’t stick but I found this was not necessary. Cool.


For each roll set up a large bowl of hot water, big enough to immerse the rice sheets. Dip the sheets into the water, just until they become flexible and lay on a kitchen towel, waiting a few more seconds until it softens. Place the filling on the top 3/4th of the sheet, leaving room on top to fold the roll over.  Add a bit of carrot, coriander, scallion, almonds, chicken and finally lettuce. It should not be more than 2-3 tablespoon. Fold top of rice paper over the filling, closing the sides over while rolling .

I made the Thai dipping sauce based on the recipe from the magazine but think a harissa/tomato based sauced would have better suited the flavors of the roll.

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons tamarind concentrate

2 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoon chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

*Because shrimp is not kosher it won’t be found in the usual supermarkets but it can be obtained in specialty stores.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nanette March 17, 2010 at 1:38 am

I much prefer your take on this, the addition of cumin, cinnamon and Moroccan paprika sounds wonderful!

I bet your boys are glad to have you home!


Yael the Finn March 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

I once had to run like that in Paris and almost missed the flight….Lovely spring rolls and your pictures are gorgeous!


Margit March 17, 2010 at 10:16 am

I like it! It’s true fusion cooking! Think I would probably not be able to do this rice paper folding thing, I’m truly terrible at stuff like that. Is Moroccan paprika different from ordinary?


Sarah March 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

I don’t think there is much of a difference, both are made from Capisicum annuum, but I never did a taste test.
I did notice that the Hungarian paprika is ground very fine and the paprika labeled Moroccan was more flaky (but not as much
as the chili flakes you put on pizza). It was the first time I made these and found it easier to put together than stuffed grape leaves. The rice paper is slighty sticky so once you roll them they keep their shape.


Zahavah March 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I once missed a flight (also in Florida!) because I was on the phone, chatting with friends…but I think I was actually AT THE GATE! Glad you got home safe — these pictures are SO gorgeous. I love the mix of flavors in Thai food.


OysterCulture March 17, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I love the look of these and had to laugh at your airport story. Had a similar incident – they announce an hour delay so everyone took off from the gate, and I was clear down at the other end of the terminal when they announced final call – we left 15 minutes earlier to the original time! What the heck!


Turkey's For Life March 17, 2010 at 11:38 pm

We very nearly missed a flight from Gatwick to Bremen for a wedding once. We were in a shop buying a wedding gift (always leave things to the last minute) when we heard the last call for our names. I could be wrong but I swear they started a 20 second countdown as we ran down various never-ending escalators.

Can you believe that coriander is difficult for us to get hold of here? Seems like you should find it everywhere – but you can’t. It’s the main reason we don’t make curries even more often!


Yael March 21, 2010 at 2:09 am

Been there – with the “getting so wrapped up in something I almost missed a flight!” Glad you made it back safe and sound.
These rolls look and sound so delicious! Running out to get some rice paper now!


Kristen March 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Those look so yummy right now, so happy. Great combo of flavors, I love tasty food that you can really feel good about eating! I have none of the ingredients right now, aside from the rice paper wrappers, so I am heading to the store.

As for the airport I can sympathize, as I see, many others do too.


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